The Benefits of Larch Arabinogalactan

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Larch tree
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Larch arabinogalactan is a natural substance sourced from the wood of the larch tree (Larix occidentalis). A type of fiber, arabinogalactans are found in many plants but occur in particularly high concentrations in the larch tree. Widely available in dietary supplement form, larch arabinogalactan is thought to offer a number of health benefits.


In alternative medicine, proponents claim that larch arabinogalactan can boost the immune system and, in turn, protect against the common cold, influenza, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and other types of viral and bacterial infections.

Larch arabinogalactan is thought to stimulate the immune system in part by increasing intestinal levels of probiotics, a type of beneficial bacteria found naturally in the gut and known to play a key role in immune function.

In addition, larch arabinogalactan is said to help with the following health conditions:

Larch arabinogalactan is also said to treat certain types of cancer, such as liver cancer.


Although research on the health effects of larch arabinogalactan is limited, there's some evidence that it may offer certain health benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available studies on larch arabinogalactan.

1) Immune System

Preliminary research shows that larch arabinogalactan may provide immune-enhancing benefits. In a 1999 report published in Alternative Medicine Review, for example, investigators note that larch arabinogalactan has been found to increase probiotic levels and stimulate immune-cell activity in experimental studies.

In addition, a preliminary study published in Alternative Medicine Review in 2002 found that taking larch arabinogalactan in combination with echinacea may benefit the immune system. In tests on 48 women, researchers found that four weeks of treatment with a combination of larch arabinogalactan and echinacea helped increase production of complement properdin (a protein known to play a key role in immune function).

There's also some evidence that larch arabinogalactan may help improve response to the pneumonia vaccine. In a 2010 study published in Nutrition Journal, scientists found that participants treated with larch arabinogalactan experienced a significantly greater antibody response than those treated with a placebo. The study involved 45 healthy adults, each of whom received treatment for a total of 72 days (starting 30 days prior receiving the pneumonia vaccine).

2) Dry Eye Syndrome

Animal-based research indicates that larch arabinogalactan shows promise in the treatment of dry eye. In a 2007 study from the Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, tests on rabbits revealed that larch arabinogalactan helped the eye surface to retain liquid. Larch arabinogalactan also appeared to promote the healing of wounds in the cornea.

3) High Cholesterol

Larch arabinogalactan may not help keep cholesterol in check, according to a small study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2004. For the study, 54 healthy adults consumed either larch arabinogalactan, tamarack arabinogalactan (a type of arabinogalactan sourced from another species of larch tree), or a placebo every day for six months. Study results showed that neither type of arabinogalactan was superior to the placebo in reducing cholesterol levels.


Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term use of larch arabinogalactan. However, larch arabinogalactan is known to trigger a number of side effects, including bloating and flatulence.

There's also some concern that use of larch arabinogalactan could worsen symptoms in people with autoimmune disorders. Therefore, individuals with autoimmune disorders (such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis) should consult a physician prior to using larch arabinogalactan.

Supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.


A number of natural remedies have been found to enhance immune function and protect against certain types of infection. For example, research suggests that echinacea and astragalus may help stimulate your immune system and shorten the duration and severity of colds.

Exercising regularly, getting sufficient sleep, and following a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants may also help bolster your immune system.

Where to Find It

Widely available for purchase online, larch arabinogalactan is sold in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Using It for Health

Due to the lack of supporting research, it's too soon to recommend larch arabinogalactan as a treatment for any condition. If you're considering using it, talk to your doctor to weigh the potential risks and benefits. Keep in mind that alternative medicine should not be used as a substitute for standard care. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

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